Racha Yai Island – About Racha Yai Island in Thailand

Racha Yai is an island that offers exceptional diving in the crystalline water of the Andaman Sea. It is located off the southern tip of Thailand, southeast of Phuket and about an hour away by boat. It has been a popular tourist attraction but until recently it has been mainly divers who knew about Racha Yai Island and came to visit. Nowadays the divers are being joined by more and more family groups, singles and couples in search of a great vacation above the surface of the sea. Racha’s white sandy beaches are very appealing to people looking for a pleasant place to sunbathe or snorkel. The island has one huge advantage for folks who’d like to enjoy a tranquil, relaxing vacation in the midst of nature – there are no roads, which means no traffic.

Thailand, Racha Yai IslandRacha Yai Island in Thailand
 

Getting there

A visit to Racha Yai can be a destination in itself or just a part of your travels in Thailand. How you get here depends on your attitude about Racha Yai Island and traveling in general, meaning that if you would like to arrive as quickly as possible, you can travel by speedboat, which will take less than half an hour from Ao Chalong or Rawai. But if you prefer to relax and enjoy the ride, go with a slower boat, which will be more like 2 hours. Weather permitting, long tail boats are available. However, be forewarned: if you come to the island for a day trip via long tail boat and a storm blows up, you will be stuck on the island for the night, or as long as it takes for the storm to subside. And, although there is a fair amount of accommodation on island, in the peak tourist season it tends to get booked up quickly.

Accommodation

The available accommodation on Racha is a choice of several hotels or bungalows. Lodgings are clean, quiet and quite pleasant. The hotels have swimming pools and other facilities that are especially welcome if you are vacationing with children. The hotels are also pretty much the only place to dine or enjoy a drink in the evening. In spite of the island’s relative isolation, the food is fresh and really very tasty. There are a few small stores on the island where you can purchase some basics, but that is the extent of the local shopping. You’ll have to buy your souvenirs on some other leg of your journey.

Thailand, Racha Yai IslandRacha Yai Island in Thailand
 

Activities

Walking on Racha Yai is both a necessity and a pleasure. It takes less than 15 minutes to get across the island on foot, and along the way you will pass idyllic scenes of coconut palms and contentedly grazing water buffalo. You can also discover your favorite beach area on your hike. One of the things that make the island so peaceful and quiet, besides the absence of cars, is the fact that typical water sports involving motors, such as water skiing, are not permitted in the vicinity. A new kind of water sport that children will especially enjoy is called Snuba. That’s not a spelling mistake but rather a combination of the words snorkel and scuba, which actually gives you a pretty good picture of what the sport itself is all about. The minimum age for Snuba divers is 8, and you need a licensed guide to supervise and make sure the diving is done safely.

If you prefer to stick with scuba diving, you will love exploring the sea around the island of Racha Yai. Beneath the water’s surface you can see beautifully preserved coral reefs and exceptional rock formations. There is a wrecked ship to investigate at Ter Bay, about 30 meters below the surface. Racha Yai’s sister island, Racha Noi, is a wonderful challenging site for more experienced divers, as the currents are stronger here and you dive deeper. Racha Noi is uninhabited and does not have nice swimming beaches, so it’s really suitable only for divers, and serious ones at that.

If you are into snorkeling, you can do it right from the beach at Racha Yai or take a boat ride to other interesting areas for snorkeling. There are quite a few spots that are sheltered form the wind and therefore do not have big waves; this makes for good snorkeling conditions and is also pleasant if you bring your children along on your trip to Racha Yai. When traveling with your kids, be extra careful to take lots of pictures. Part of the fun will be looking at them when you’re back home and talking about Racha Yai Island and your wonderful vacation there.

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